Physics professor is one of 15 recipients of Department of Defense MURI research award
June 6, 2013 - A team of six scientists, including physics professor Marco Fornari, is receiving $8.5 million from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to develop and apply computational methods that will replace expensive and rare chemical elements from critical technologies.
Their award-winning research proposal, "Rare Element Replacement Strategies," is a combined effort between Fornari and his colleagues at Duke University, Brigham Young University, University of North Texas and University of Maryland - College Park. The team is receiving one of 15 awards given by the DoD to academic institutions to perform multidisciplinary basic research. Totaling $105 million, the awards are presented by the Army Research Office and the Office of Naval Research under the DoD Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program.
The MURI program supports research by teams of investigators across traditional science and engineering disciplines to accelerate research progress. Fornari, along with his research colleagues, will investigate topological decompositions and spectral sampling algorithms for elements substitution in critical technologies. In simpler terms, he will develop and apply methods to design advanced materials with improved functionalities for applications that are crucial for the mission of the DoD.
The Army Research Office and the Office of Naval Research solicited proposals in 16 topics important to the DoD and received a total of 193 papers, followed by 43 proposals. The 15 awards handed out are for a five year period, with the research expected to produce significant advances in capabilities for U.S. military forces, and to open up entirely new lines of research. A total of 43 academic institutions are expected to participate in these select 15 research projects.
Pear-shaped atomic nuclei offer clues into nature of matter
May 28, 2013 - An international team of nuclear physicists, including CMU assistant professor of physics Kathrin Wimmer, has found that some atomic nuclei can assume asymmetric 'pear' shapes.
The researchers' findings, published in the May 9 issue of the journal Nature, landed the coveted cover story and could be the key to understanding one of the great mysteries of the universe - the reason for the Big Bang's creation of a massive imbalance between matter and antimatter.
The reason behind the imbalance is one of physics' great mysteries. In particle physics, four basic forces dictate how matter behaves - gravity, electromagnetic forces, "strong" interactions and "weak" interactions. Physicists have been searching for signs of a new type of force or interaction to explain the matter-antimatter imbalance.
Most nuclei that exist naturally are not spherical. Wimmer and her colleagues decided to focus on pear-shaped nuclei because their unusually asymmetrical shape would make the effects of the new force much easier and stronger to detect. These nuclei get their shape from positive protons that are nudged out from the center of the nucleus by asymmetrical nuclear forces, yielding more mass at one end of the nucleus than the other.
Until now, it was difficult to observe pear-shaped nuclei experimentally. However, a technique pioneered in the Isotope Separator Facility (ISOLDE) at CERN, the European laboratory for nuclear physics research in Geneva, has been used successfully.
To determine the shape of the nuclei, the research team accelerated radium and radon atoms and smashed them into tin, nickel and cadmium. However, because the positively charged nuclei repelled each other, nuclear reactions were not possible. The result was the excitation of the nuclei to higher energy levels and the production of gamma rays, with the pattern of gamma radiation revealing the pear shape of the nucleus.
The experimental observation of nuclear pear shapes is important for understanding the theory of nuclear structure and for helping with experimental searches for electric dipole moments (EDM) in atoms.
The study's results will help direct ongoing research for EDM that are currently being conducted in labs across North America and Europe, helping to advance the search for understanding the nature of the building blocks of the universe.
The research team, which included scientists from the UK, Germany, the USA, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Poland and Spain, was led by professor Peter Butler from the University of Liverpool's Department of Physics.
First published in 1869, Nature is the world's most highly cited interdisciplinary science journal. Most scientific journals are now highly specialized, but Nature is among the few that still publish original research articles across a wide range of scientific fields. Published weekly, papers in this international journal feature the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology.
Science is Fun! mentoring program connects with the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum
May 17, 2013 - Recently, CMU science majors and teacher education students Elizabeth Moore, Amber Millis, Chrissy Wills and Natasha Gabara connected with local elementary school children from the Mount Pleasant community at the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum.
As members of the Science is Fun! mentoring program - and under the guidance of chemistry lecturer Angela McGuirk and Heather Frisch, MPDM administrator and co-founder - the students developed and delivered a seven-week series of learning about science. The first three weeks were composed of fun, educational lessons with hands-on demonstrations that focused on biology, chemistry and physics topics.
CMU teacher education students gained valuable experience in a real classroom setting, while the children who participated gained an appreciation for the sciences.
During the last four weeks of the program, the mentors paired up with the children and spent time working on creating a science fair project of their choice. On April 11, the children's parents and guardians, along with CMU students and interested members of the Mount Pleasant community, visited the MPDM to view a showcase about what the children learned.
Nicole Simon, CMU senior, biomedical sciences major and creator of the Science is Fun! mentoring program, said that one of the parents told her that "...the program was a blessing for their child." The school children were enthusiastic about the program as well.
The CMU-MPDM partnership and workshop was such a success that MPDM co-founder Heather Frisch has already asked CMU teacher education students to run the program again.
The Science is Fun! mentoring program was initiated by Portland, Mich. native Nicole Simon, in response to a requirement for her LDR 402: Application of Leadership class.
Located at 5093 E. Remus Road in Mount Pleasant, the Mount Pleasant Discovery Museum is a 12,000 square foot, eco-friendly facility that celebrates child-centric, play-based education. Offering a variety of exhibits that appeal to a range of developmental levels - covering subjects from math and sciences to world culture, literacy, regional history and the arts - the museum invites children of all ages to come explore, learn, create and grow.
Visit mpdiscoverymuseum.org for museum hours and admission information.
Physics student in the running to receive elite national scholarship
March 7, 2013 - Physics major David Hicks is one of CMU's four Goldwater Scholarship nominees this year.
He is one of the nearly 1,100 college and university students across the nation to be nominated.
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986, and is the namesake of Barry M. Goldwater, who served in the U.S. Senate for 30 years. The award is given annually to approximately 300 college sophomores and juniors who demonstrate excellence in their fields and are committed to pursuing a career in mathematics, engineering or natural sciences. Each institution is permitted to nominate up to four candidates each year.
David Hicks is a junior Honors student from Farmington Hills majoring in physics with a minor in mathematics. He is a member of the Society of Physics Students and the American Physics Society.
Hicks is currently conducting research with CMU assistant professors of physics Veronica Barone and Matthew Redshaw.
Since January 2012, Hicks has been working with Dr. Barone doing computational and experimental battery research. He applied for a summer research grant to continue his work in the lab during the summer of 2012 and presented his research at an undergraduate poster session during the 2012 American Chemical Society Conference held in July in Dearborn, Mich. The research results are expected to be published sometime this year.
In January 2013, Hicks began working with Dr. Redshaw, a nuclear physicist. Their work involves a collaborative effort with Michigan State University to build a Penning trap for atomic nuclei, which will allow physicists to gather more accurate data on the masses of fast-decaying radioactive isotopes.
Outside of his studies and research, Hicks is involved in music, serving as a vocalist for CMU's Advanced Vocal Ensemble, Chamber Singers, and Central Harmony - an a cappella group.
He plans to earn a Ph.D. in physics and pursue a career at NASA.
Graduate student Harris receives 2012 IEEE-DEIS Fellowship
November 27, 2012 - Graduate student Scott Harris
has been awarded a $5,000 fellowship from the Dielectrics and Electrical
Insulation Society (DEIS) of the Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The fellowship is awarded to students
pursuing a Ph.D. degree in the area of insulating materials, breakdown,
charge transport, electrostatic phenomena, high voltage effects and
Harris, who is doing his research with assistant professor of physics Axel Mellinger,
received the award for his innovative project on studying dielectric
barrier discharges in micrometer-sized voids. The data will help to
improve so-called ferroelectrets, i.e. polymer foams where electric
charges have been embedded into the internal voids. These piezoelectric
materials have a wide range of applications as pressure sensors,
actuators and energy harvesters. Unlike many of the currently used
ceramic materials, they are flexible, can be manufactured in large sizes
and do not contain toxic metals.
Harris is currently a Ph.D. student in CMU's Science of Advanced
Materials program. He earned an M.S. degree in physics from CMU and a
B.S. in mathematics and physics from Old Dominion University in Norfolk,
Part of this award is reserved for travel support and will be used to
present his research at the 2013 Conference on Electrical Insulation
and Dielectric Phenomena in Shenzhen, China.
Peralta's research funded by the National Science Foundation
October 11, 2012 - Physics professor Juan Peralta was awarded a grant to support his theoretical and computational research on magnetic properties of nanostructures. This grant is a continuation of previous funding also awarded by NSF.
- Research Abstract
Understanding molecular magnetism is of fundamental importance in the development of future technologies. Many examples can be found that make use of molecular magnetism for practical applications, such as spintronics devices, magnetic memory alloys and single-molecule magnets. In all cases, understanding the fundamental physical and chemical mechanisms that lead to microscopic magnetism is essential for the design and optimization of new materials and devices, and computer simulations can help to elucidate these mechanisms and to optimize the information obtained from experiments. This award continues to support the development of efficient computational tools to provide a quantitative description of molecular magnetism. This project impacts directly on the Science of Advanced Materials program at Central Michigan University, providing continuing support for one Ph.D. student. Integration of research with education at the undergraduate and graduate level is also an important aspect of the project.
Peralta and his research team will receive $188,000 for years 2012-2015.CMU physics professors invited to participate in the initiative of MSU's leading nuclear physics facility
October 10, 2012 - Michigan State University has invited three Central Michigan University faculty members to participate in the academic initiative of a nuclear physics research facility in East Lansing to help improve understanding of how nuclear particles can be used in diagnosing and curing diseases as well as assisting in homeland security efforts through radiation detection and uncovering the origin of matter.
The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at MSU will include three CMU assistant professors that will work at both institutions furthering nuclear physics research as part of a research cohort in an academic collaboration between MSU and CMU. As part of their appointment to the department of physics at MSU, the CMU faculty members will supervise MSU doctoral students to educate future generations of scientists. Both undergraduate and graduate students from CMU will have the opportunity to be involved in the research.
“This collaboration between MSU and CMU amplifies the impact of FRIB on the state by ensuring students and colleagues at CMU will be working with faculty with direct engagement in FRIB,” says Mark Burnham, vice president of governmental affairs at MSU. “This furthers the development of Michigan as a hub for nuclear physics.”
The CMU faculty members include:
- Matthew Redshaw, an assistant professor of physics at CMU who will conduct research at FRIB. His current research projects include the study of high-precision mass measurements with exotic nuclei and ultra-high-precision mass spectrometry with stable and long-lived isotopes. Redshaw received his Ph.D. from Florida State University.
- Kathrin Wimmer, an assistant professor of physics at CMU whose current research projects include the study of the structure of exotic nuclei. Her research is performed at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory in East Lansing. Wimmer received her Ph.D. at Technische Universitat München in Munich.
- Georgios Perdikakis, an assistant professor of physics at CMU who received his Ph.D. from the National Technical University of Athens in Greece. Perdikakis specializes in experimental nuclear physics and nuclear astrophysics. His current research includes experiments to understand the nuclear reactions that occur in stars and supernovae.
FRIB is a facility that will enable more than 1,000 nuclear scientists from around the world to conduct their research that will allow scientists to produce the same rare isotopes found in stars or supernovae, which will help discover the origin of matter. The $680 million facility is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, MSU and the State of Michigan.
Fornari's research selected for 2012 Samsung GRO Program
“It’s going to be the most powerful rare isotope user facility in the world,” says Redshaw. “It’s a great opportunity to have this facility only 60 miles down the road from CMU.”
October 5, 2012 - Physics professor Marco Fornari submitted a proposal, "(R)Evolutionary High-Throughput Discovery and Optimization of Materials Enhanced Technologies," that was selected for the 2012 Samsung Global Research Outreach (GRO) Program.
- Research Abstract
enabled technologies (METs) are multi-component systems that perform a specific
function. Such a function is intrinsically related to the properties of the
materials components and/or the interplay between them across interfaces,
transport channels and long range interactions. METs include a large set of
modern devices at the core of Samsung’s business: from transistors to solar
cells, to electromechanical energy harvesters, etc. In order to design and
optimize METs and to provide competitive advantages to Samsung, researchers
need to achieve an enhanced level of control on all the key components and at
all the possible levels: from the higher-order function of the device to the
quantum mechanical atomistic details of the local chemical structure. These
include defects, interfaces, and contacts that may crucially affect the METs’
performance. Our ultimate goals are (1) to assemble the largest data set of
materials properties by building on the synergy between high-throughput (HT)
first principles calculations and experiments and (2) to develop effective
tools for analyzing the data and discover novel MET ‘s descriptors and
applications. The proposed research is an evolution and extension of AFLOWLIB.ORG,
a library of material properties generated using the HT framework AFLOW
(Curtarolo) that may be mined a
posteriori for various, a priori unanticipated, applications. We
will design effective strategies to expand the materials properties library
with a variety of METs’ components, we will develop tools to validate and
process the data included in the library, and we will develop and apply a
hierarchy of specific MET descriptors to discover and optimize electronic
devices based on emergent phases at the oxide-oxide interface.
GRO Program is Samsung's academic research collaboration platform that holds annual calls for research proposals from the world's leading universities. Selected proposals are awarded with cash support for one year exceeding $100,000 and awards may get renewed up to three years, based on research outcomes and necessity for further research driven by Samsung.
Fornari's research proposal is one of 86 winning proposals accepted by Samsung. Collaborators on this project include Marco Nardelli from the departments of physics and chemistry at the University of North Texas in Denton, Tex. and CSMD Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn. and Stefano Curtarolo from the departments of materials science and physics, and director of the Center for Materials Genomics at Duke University.
The team will receive $142,049 for their first year of research.
>> Click here for the full list of 2012 GRO winners.
Petkov's research published in prestigious Nature Materials journal
July 11, 2012 - Physics professor Valeri Petkov recently co-authored a paper - "Ferroelectric order in individual nanometre-scale crystals" - that has been published in the July 2012 issue of the prestigious Nature Materials journal.
Petkov's research - done in collaboration with researchers from the University of California at Berkeley, Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, University of New Orleans in New Orleans, La., and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif. - investigated the length scale at which phenomena such as ferroelectricity is still present, and how it is of fundamental relevance for nanoscale
applications. Their high-resolution transmission electron microscopy study now shows how ferroelectricity can persist in nanoparticles down to about 5 nm in diameter, pointing the way towards the ultimate size limit for ferroelectric applications.
Nature Materials journal covers a range of topics within materials science, from materials engineering and structural materials (metals, alloys, ceramics, composites) to organic and soft materials (glasses,
colloids, liquid crystals, polymers). It is one of the premiere, high impact publications in the field of materials science.
>> Click here to find out more.